Managing Director of the British Game Alliance
How has the first 18 months of BGA operation been?
We are breaking new ground and that’s exciting, but with change come challenges and the BGA has had its fair share. With a dynamic team we are able to incorporate feedback into our future planning, ensuring we pursue a progressive line. We have had great success in our first 18 months, with over 550 shoots on board, and more than a hundred stockists reaching 3,000 outlets, all using BGA assured game. Our assurance scheme goes from strength to strength with over 200 audits having taken place this year, and our new game farm audit is shaping up really well too. So all in all, it’s onwards and upwards.
If the game sector is to move with the times, then we must adapt our offering, recognising consumer trends and demands. We have to be innovative with game if the larger food businesses and retailers are going to embrace it. So we set about creating 13 new game products with leading industry development chefs, ensuring the products are commercially viable, scalable and hit consumer trends. They taste fantastic; game rillettes, pulled pheasant thigh, game suet pudding, pheasant sausage roll, game sausages, pheasant meatballs, pheasant goujons, partridge and pear terrine, gamekeeper’s pie and hunter’s ham. Designed for food service into pub groups, hotels and contract caterers, we are now locking in orders for the coming season.
What are the opportunities for game overseas?
The opportunity further overseas than Europe is great. In many cases there aren’t export licenses for game, so we’re working with DEFRA to get these set up to provide access to these new markets. We had a very successful business trip to Hong Kong organised in conjunction with the Department for International Trade (DIT), with 19 meetings held over the week with major retailers, restaurant groups, hotel chains and national food distributors. We were pushing at an open door and have since had a return visit from the second largest food distributor looking to underwrite significant volumes of game for the coming season, all from assured shoots, which we are very excited about. A trip to Tokyo is planned for the start of July plus dates for a Canada trip are being arranged with the DIT at the moment.
Why do you encourage guns to only shoot on BGA assured shoots?
I firmly believe we are all in this together, from game farms to shoots to the guns enjoying their day out. We all have a vested interest in a sustainable future for game shooting. Guns can do their bit by making a responsible choice, choosing to support shoots that are investing in our future and are abiding by best practice through the BGA independent assurance scheme. I would urge all guns to ask the question to shoot operators; are you a BGA member and if not why not?
What’s the best game dish you’ve ever eaten?
Difficult one. I have made and eaten many delicious game dishes but I think my fiancé’s pheasant ramen dish takes the prize, it’s such a brilliant combination of British/Asian fusion but made much healthier and stronger in flavour by using pheasant over chicken.
Name the best shooting property you’ve stayed in, and why.
Constable Burton in North Yorkshire is spectacular, the hospitality is unprecedented and there is always an excellent crowd in attendance. D’Arcy is a fantastic host with plenty of energy and makes you feel like the Hall is home for the weekend. Steeped in history CB is a great place to stay and shoot for anyone looking for the whole package.
Tell us about your most memorable – not necessarily the best – day’s shooting.
I think my best day’s shooting was when I took my then girlfriend out on her first day and she managed to shoot a pheasant with her first shot. She turned to me and said “not sure what all the fuss is about, it’s easy!” It was the perfect moment, even if I did die a little inside.
You are given a day’s shooting absolutely anywhere in the world, all expenses paid for you and seven guests. Where would you choose, with whom, and what would you eat and drink for lunch and dinner?
Easy! It would have to be wing shooting in Southern Africa. I would drop anything to go again. The variety of species, and the environment you’re shooting in, is second to none.
From decoying Egyptian Geese and Rock Doves to standing for driven Guinea Fowl, you have it all. I would take my four brothers and three close mates. There is nothing better than having the game you shot in the morning cooked on the ‘braai’ for lunch and then different game done for dinner, it’s a meat feast but it’s amazing and as for sipping an ice cold beer with the African sun on your back, you just can’t beat it!
You like cooking? What’s the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking and eating game at home?
I love cooking game, it is great to know where your meat has come from and be part of the process that takes it from field to fork. The biggest mistake people make when cooking games is over cooking it and treating it like chicken. Grouse and partridge can both be eaten rare; not how I like to eat it but it can. Our Eat Wild website provides some really easy and delicious recipes along with tips on cooking game: www.eatwild.co